Ivo Van Aart (director)
29 August 2020 (released)
06 September 2020
Femke Boot (Katja Herbers) is suffering from writers’ block and an assaulted on Twitter by an anonymous individual with the vilest of comments – which as is the norm these days are reproduced for the viewer. The pressure is on, two fold as the publisher is looking for results in own week and the Twitter is starting to deluge, and little if any interest from the police. Aside to this her daughter Anna (Claire Porro) is having problems at school with a headteacher who isn’t that sympathetic to freedom of speech.
And just to top things off her neighbour is building a fence making a lot of noise and generally being nuisance. But the neighbour with his hat and at a certain angle appears to be one of her twitter aggressors. By chance he has to go up onto his roof to which Femke has from her home and pushes him off. Two results from this she takes a finger as a trophy and her writing block has lifted. Her personal life improves too when she meets up and beds Steven Blood (Bram Van der Kelen) a successful writer with whom she had debated with at the start of the film. This is all very embarrassing for Anna but after the initial shock they settle down, writing together.
With her column back on tack Steven warns against reading Twitter, Femke does with the expected results. Tracking the troll down she confronts him and during a spirited exchange he says the wrong word and there’s another finger in the collection and Femke is back in business. There now dawns on Femke that the twitter trolls are inspiring in a perverse way and she sets about feeding this inspiration working out of a bag of tools that she keeps in the shed. Meanwhile Blood has moved in and generally everything is working out fine until Anna makes a bloody discovery.
This is hardly subtle stuff once you start to get the feel of the film and the characters but it’s so audacious in nature and beautifully played and constructed by director Ivo Van Aart and writer Daan Windhorst that close examination while interesting is maybe pointless. The sheer unpleasantness of almost everyone involved from the trolls to the publishers who see Femke’s torment as an opportunity which is taken to a logical extreme when Femke arrives at the launch of her book covered in blood to a confusion of wonder, revulsion and hipster nods.
Then there is Femke herself who as justified as she is to respond and defend herself in turn then finding that she is in turn exploiting beyond all good taste. And taste is key as The Columnist revels in bad taste as she murders her way to success, in a montage of blades and blood.
Its a cold, brutal film clinical in execution and ambience yet manages to elicit a great deal of sympathy for Femke and Anna. That falls away from the former as the film progresses. Herbers is out on her own here taking a complicated premise and character and making her both sympathetic and ghastly.